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Cat vomit--from a hairball or something more serious? St. Charles vet makes in-home diagnoses

Ker-spat! The smelly mess on the floor is the result of a minute-long attempt by your Persian to hock up a fur ball. Though a vomiting cat often isn’t cause for concern, in some cases, frequent vomiting indicates there may be something seriously wrong with your cat.
AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh
Cat owners need to be attuned to their cat’s habits to track the vomiting frequency, says Dr. Laura Bransky of Veterinary House Calls in St. Charles, Illinois. “An adult cat vomiting every day is a problem. If that is the case, bring the cat into the vet and have blood work and X-rays done . . . to make sure there is no underlying problem. . . If everything is normal, then the place to start is changing the food.”
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AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh

One of the more common and serious causes of frequent vomiting is hyperthyroidism, which is “when the thyroid gland is in overproduction . . . the first thing you see is vomiting . . . [and the cat] eating more and losing weight.” Other possibilities are kidney, liver or inflammatory bowel disease. Another consideration is that a foreign object, like string or a small toy, might be causing a blockage.

Bransky notes that even otherwise healthy, active, playful cats can vomit once a week or more. “Even mine vomited once a week and it was hairballs, nothing more.”

It’s essential to also monitor water intake, says Bransky. “If a cat starts drinking more water that’s always a problem . . . [that’s] a really easy thing to know that’s ‘off’. . . The earlier you catch it, the better,” Bransky says. Another tell-tale sign that your cat isn’t healthy is if your cat stops grooming.

Bransky says, “If your cat stops grooming—it’s a big red flag—you can tell if they’re sick . . . from their coat . . . grooming is so much a part of what they do.”

With cats spending up to half of their lives grooming themselves, it’s inevitable that they may vomit while trying to pass a hairball
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http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-expert-dog-and-cat-behavior/why-cats-groom-so-much.html.

Bransky says to be especially concerned if you notice your cat vomiting excessively through the day and “appears sick, lethargic, not eating, not able to keep anything down—then that’s an emergency.”

If your cat is having difficulty passing the hairballs, Bransky recommends that “they be on a balanced food [and add] Laxatone—a petroleum-based flavored medication—that helps the hairball move through their system.” See Petsmart’s website for sample Laxatone products:
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http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2755239

Cat owners can also protect their cat’s health by including probiotics in their diet—they’re not just good for humans—but cats too. “Just like with people, it helps maintain healthy bacteria in the digestive system . . . You can buy them at pet stores or the vet—[just] sprinkle it on the food.” Bransky says that cat owners can choose to add one teaspoon per day of organic plain yogurt [organic since they include the highest number of active cultures, says Bransky] to the cat’s food. Even though cats are lactose intolerant, says Bransky, yogurt is still good.

Introducing a grain-free formula of food could be the change that reduces the vomiting, Bransky indicates. Bransky notes that cats “need meat—[they’re] carnivores and can’t be vegetarians [without] lots of supplementing with vitamins. . . .When looking for food, look for the fewest ingredients possible . . . [and] look for a mature cat formula as they age [due] to their changing protein needs.”

Many people fail to modify their cat’s diet at they age. Bransky stresses they should be adjusted since cats’ dietary requirements change, like with protein intake. It’s particularly important to only introduce one protein source into the cat’s diet since they are more reactive to protein than any other food source, relates Bransky. “It’s a bigger molecule—harder to digest—that’s why it’s usually the protein source causing [digestive problems],” Bransky says.

Final words of advice from Dr. Bransky: “monitor the water intake, especially in older cats. . . . You have to be really attentive to how your cat’s acting. The more you know, the more you can help your veterinarian” identify a potential problem.

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Laura Bransky is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine and has been operating Veterinary House Calls since 2002. Dr. Bransky provides the following in-home services to pets: wellness checks, regular vaccinations, blood work, heartworm testing, nail trims and expressing anal glands. Dr. Bransky serves patients in St. Charles, Illinois and the greater Fox Valley area. Dr. Branksy may be reached at (630) 587-4270.

Comments

  • Barbara 4 years ago

    Enjoyed your article and learned a few new things, Steph!

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